Rhododendron groenlandicum

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Rhododendron groenlandicum
Rhododendron groenlandicum.jpg
Scientific classification
R. groenlandicum
Binomial name
Rhododendron groenlandicum
  • Ledum groenlandicum Oeder
  • Ledum palustre subsp. groenlandicum (Oeder) Hultén

Rhododendron groenlandicum (bog Labrador tea, or in northern Canada Hudson's Bay Tea;[2] formerly Ledum groenlandicum or Ledum latifolium),[3] is a flowering shrub with white flowers and evergreen leaves that is used to make a herbal tea.


It is a low shrub growing to 50 centimetres (20 in) (rarely up to 2 metres (6 ft 7 in)) tall with evergreen leaves 20–60 millimetres (0.79–2.36 in) long and 3–15 millimetres (0.12–0.59 in) broad. The leaves are wrinkled on top, densely hairy white to red-brown underneath, and have a leathery texture, curling at the edges. The tiny white flowers grow in hemispherical clusters and are very fragrant and sticky.[4]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Ledum latifolium drawn by William Miller

It is reported from Greenland, as well as from every province and territory in Canada and in the northeastern and northwestern United States (New England, New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Idaho, Washington, Oregon and Alaska).

It grows in bogs, muskegs, and open tundra, as well as occasionally on wet shores and rocky alpine slopes.[5][6]


Bog Labrador tea leaves were regularly used to make beverages and medicines--most commonly a fragrant tea--by many Native American tribes such as the Quinault and Makah. the Potawatomn, the Iroquoi, and First Nations tribes in Canada.[6] When European explorers arrived, they soon adopted these uses as well, dubbing it "Indian plant tea".[6] During the Revolutionary War, it was used as a substitute for tea.[6]

It is sometimes grown as an ornamental shrub.[6]

Its essential oil is popular in aromatherapy.[6]

For its traditional uses in herbal medicine, see Labrador tea.


Bog Labrador tea contains toxic alkaloids, which are poisonous to livestock and may be toxic to humans in concentrated doses.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Rhododendron groenlandicum (Oeder) Kron & Judd". Tropicos. Retrieved February 2, 2014.
  2. ^ Niering, William A.; Olmstead, Nancy C. (1985) [1979]. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Wildflowers, Eastern Region. Knopf. p. 502. ISBN 0-394-50432-1.
  3. ^ Kron, Kathleen Anne; Judd (1990). "Phylogenetic Relationships within the Rhodoreae (Ericaceae) with Specific Comments on the Placement of Ledum". Systematic Botany. 15 (1): 67. doi:10.2307/2419016. JSTOR 2419016.
  4. ^ Peterson, R. T. and McKenny, M. A Field Guide to Wildflowers Northeastern and North-central North America.
  5. ^ Kron, Kathleen A.; Judd, Walter S. (1990). "Rhododendron groenlandicum". Systematic Botany. Flora of North America. 15 (1): 57–68. doi:10.2307/2419016. JSTOR 2419016.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g Anderson, M. (2011). Plant Guide for bog Labrador tea (Ledum groenlandicum) (PDF). Greensboro, NC.: USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, National Plant Data Team.

External links[edit]